Winston & Strawn partner Neely Agin lost her daughter to cancer the antitrust lawyer decided she would do something to help find a cure for the disease that took her daughter.
“My daughter, Alexis, battled a form of brain cancer called DIPG. She was a sweet and stubborn 4 year old who enjoyed art projects, stuffed animals, DVD’s and just being a 4 year old girl. She was articulate, intuitive and always on the go. She is loved and so very much a true inspiration,” said Agin.
“Through our work with Team Alexis, we have been able to help get closer to a cure, and I am confident that in my lifetime, The Cure Starts Now will be a critical player in finding that cure.”
You serve as the Director of the Washington, D.C. chapter of The Cure Starts Now Cancer Research Foundation. How did you get involved?
In 2008, my then two-year-old daughter, Alexis, was diagnosed with DIPG, a terminal brain cancer with a prognosis of 9-12 months. When I quickly learned that there was no effective treatment available for my daughter, and no meaningful research being done to help find a cure, I searched for an opportunity to change that.
The Cure Starts Now had been formed the previous year by another family whose daughter was diagnosed with the same form of cancer, and they were looking to expand to include other families. I was impressed by their mission, and liked the idea of pooling my efforts with others’ so that the funds raised would go further and have a greater impact on research. Rather than starting my own 501(c)(3) and recreating the wheel, I decided to join The Cure Starts Now.
In 2009, I formed Team Alexis, the D.C. Chapter of The Cure Starts Now, which was one of the first nine chapters in the United States. Today, there are over 38 chapters on three continents, operating with less than 3 percent overhead, that have funded more than 80 grants in eleven countries totaling over $12.5 million since 2007.
What began as a way to help find a cure for my daughter has become a way for me to honor her memory. I channel the energy I would spend parenting Alexis into helping to find a cure for other children so that they won’t have to go through what my daughter endured. No parent should ever have to hear that there is no cure for their child’s cancer and it is only a matter of time.
What is the mission of The Cure Starts Now?
The Cure Starts Now represents something truly different. It’s not about fighting just one cancer, but the elimination of cancer as a whole. We believe, as the experts do, that in order to truly cure cancer you have to focus on those cancers that are immune to conventional treatments, those cancers for which there are no treatments, those cancers that affect children, and those cancers that are the biggest bullies. We call this the “homerun cure,” and its invention isn’t new.
The “homerun cure” strategy dates back to the early 1900s when advances in cancer research led to the invention of surgical efforts, radiation, and chemotherapy. But then this bold action stopped, and the focus shifted to treatments rather than cures and to cancers that affect the most people rather than those that could teach us the most.
The Cure Starts Now is not just another cancer charity. It is the only cancer charity dedicated to the “homerun cure”—curing cancer, one child at a time. Each child represents a life, an opportunity, and a chance. We focus on curing cancer with four separate foundational priorities:
- Information – The collection of registry data, complete with genomic and demographic details, on the cancers we fight.
- Delivery – The invention of revolutionary methods to deliver treatments directly to the tumor, limiting ancillary side effects.
- Translational – The strategic creation of new treatments and new drugs specifically engineered to fight cancer.
- Clinical – The adaptation of existing treatments to help fight cancers in patients today.
The D.C. chapter hosts an annual “A Night to Beat the Odds” casino night. Tell us more about this event.
On February 9, 2019, Team Alexis held its 5th annual “A Night to Beat the Odds” casino night at the Hyatt Regency in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The Great Gatsby-themed benefit was emceed by WJLA’s Nancy Chen, and included casino-style gaming tables, food, DJ, dancing, and a silent auction featuring products, gift certificates, and travel packages. All proceeds benefit The Cure Starts Now and will help fund pediatric brain cancer research. We were thrilled to have Winston & Strawn as one of our presenting sponsors this year.
In what ways has Winston contributed to this organization?
When I joined Winston in early 2018, several firm members reached out to learn about The Cure Starts Now and to discuss ways in which they could help support my efforts with the organization.
I have been so touched and honored by all of the support that Winston has provided—from sponsoring the 2019 casino night and hosting a cocktail reception to preview this event to individual contributions of time and money, such as the handmade quilt my former assistant donated for the silent auction. The outpouring of support has underscored what a wonderful firm Winston is, and I am so grateful to have joined such a great team of people.